Much of Beckingham’s history over the last 150 years has been well documented, primarily through the efforts and inspiration of the late Peter Mason. Recently this has greatly enhanced through the work of the village history group. The fruits of the group’s work is apparent in the content of this web site.
In complete contrast, the natural history of Beckingham is very poorly documented. Whereas we have fairly full lists of human inhabitants of the village, the village history group has no list of plant or animal species found in the village. The creation of this area of the village web site is an attempt to begin the documentation of the natural history of the village.
There is anecdotal evidence that wildlife in the village in former times – even as recently as 25 years ago – was richer than it is now. Intensification of arable agriculture and the loss of much animal husbandry has reduced the value of much of the area of the parish to wildlife. Paradoxically, the areas of the village which seem to hold the greatest abundance and diversity of wildlife are the inhabited parts of the village. Gardens, with ponds and feeding stations, can provide greater diversity and abundance of resources for wildlife than some arable farmland.
Our climate is changing rapidly and this will have increasingly great effects on our wildlife – some species becoming locally scarce or extinct, others arriving or becoming more abundant. Some of these changes are most unwelcome – such as the arrival of the Harlequin Ladybird. Some may have little ecological impact as far as we can see – perhaps the Little Egret which has been seen on Beckingham Marsh falls into this category. Other arrivals such as the tiny, carnivorous pest eating Worm Slug – will be beneficial. It would be a great shame to let these rapid changes remain unrecorded – it is unlikely there has ever been such a period of rapid change since the dawn of human civilisation.
In addition to changes caused by global factors, we also have changes caused by local factors. On the one hand, with increased numbers of houses in the village with, typically, much smaller gardens, often completely paved over, our village gardens are likely to become less attractive to wildlife. Beckingham Marsh, however, is already becoming more attractive to wildlife. With just the minimal changes in management already made by the RSPB, we already have increased numbers of breeding Lapwings.