Kingswood is a nature-lover’s paradise. Located near the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in a lush valley with numerous natural habitat types, Kingswood supports a widely diverse fauna and flora. Cedar Waxwings, American Goldfinch, Eastern Bluebirds, Swallows, and Herons are some of the common bird species. In addition, the calls of Barred and Screech Owls can be heard at night and the Belted Kingfisher, Northern Bobolink and Cuckoos may be observed as well. A Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher often can be observed at the newly created Wildlife Blind located at the old Beaver Pond behind Hathaway Pond.
Perhaps the two most observed mammals at Kingswood are Beavers and White-tailed Deer. Beavers variably inhabit Hathaway Pond, the small Beaver Pond beyond Hathaway (reachable by taking the Lake Trail to the far end of Hathaway and continuing along the stream) or the new swamp by Tent and Trailer. In 2004 high Beaver activity was noted at the Tent and Trailer swamp and a yearling Beaver was observed at the small Beaver Pond. Deer can be found virtually anywhere at Kingswood and are especially observable early in the mornings or when quietly walking the trails they may be disturbed from their bedding sites (often in fern thickets). Other mammals include Weasels, Voles, Red Squirrels, Gray Squirrels, and Flying Squirrels (responsible for the often heard “pitterpat on the tent flap”), Field Mice, Skunks, Porcupines, Bats, and the rare spotting of a Black Bear, Bobcat or River Otter (usually only present in the winter). Coyote can be heard at night in the distant hills.
Fish are present in Hathaway Pond with the most common being the Sunfish, Bluefish and Bullheads. Also present in the pond are numerous Painted Turtles, which can be observed basking on logs. More difficult to spot is the large Snapping Turtle which only ventures onto land once a year to lay eggs, and spends most of its time at the bottom of the pond hunting fish. Other notable pond life includes green salamanders which are the adult egg-laying form of the Red-eft salamanders found in the woods. The most common pond plants are the Pond Weed and Yellow Water Lillies (which will flower beautifully if not picked!). Dragonflies and damselflies are numerous around the lake may even land on your rowboat!
Reptiles in camp include snakes with the most common being the Garter Snake and Ribbon Snake. Also present are Northern Water Snakes and Hognose Snakes. Possibly present but not observed in years are Black Rat Snakes and Timber Rattle Snakes. Turtles include the Painted and Snapping Turtles discussed above and possibly Bog Turtle. Amphibians are extremely numerous. Salamanders include Red-efts which can be found under logs, crossing paths and even in the cooled embers of campfires. Red-efts hatch from eggs in the water and develop into salamanders that live on land for up to 10 years before returning to the water, changing to a green color and reproducing, continuing the cycle. Other salamanders include Red-backed, Dusky and possibly the threatened Spring Salamander, although it has not been documented. Frogs can be found hopping on nearly every wooded trail and especially in wet meadows. Pickerel Frogs and American Toads are extremely common, as are Green Frogs. Wood Frogs are a bit rarer and Spring Peepers are often heard but not seen. Spade-foot Toads may be present but have not been observed.
Numerous mushrooms and other fungi make Kingswood their home. They are especially numerous in late August and can be found in damp, dark woods. The names of mushrooms are almost as entertaining as the mushrooms and include Turkey-tails, Orange-caps, Puff-balls, Stinkhorns, and Jelly Fungi.
The most diverse form of life on the planet are the insects and Kingswood is no exception. There are probably over 100 species of butterfly to be found in the old fields, many feeding on the nectar of the abundant Golden-rods and Asters. Even more diverse are the moths with upwards of 500 species residing at Kingswood. Leaving a flashlight lit on a warm evening will reveal a myriad of moths with more bizarre and intriguing species becoming active through the night. Beetles, bees, wasps, ants, spiders and the ever-present Daddy Long-legs (not an insect or a spider and not dangerous at all!) also make fascinating study and can be found under any rock, log or tent!
Plant life at Kingswood is also incredibly varied. Flowering plants include Lady Slipper, St. John’s Wort, Joe-pye Weed, numerous Goldenrod and Aster species, and more. Approximately 14 fern species, potentially all of the locally ranging species, are found at Kingswood with the most common being Bracken Fern, Sensitive Fern and various wood Ferns. The forest is made up of Cherry, Maple, Birch, Aspen, and some Eastern Hemlock trees over 200 years old. A line of Tamarack trees was planted along the road leading up to the equipped sites.