Read Alison's Articles
Alison grew up in Kent and is currently pursuing her PhD in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies & Mathematics from Williams College. A former intern in conservation and community outreach at the Kent Land Trust, Alison additionally developed her love for the natural world through work with the Central Park Conservancy and Camp Brookwoods & Deer Run.
We love the way Alison's writing resonates with our wonder and strong sense of place while connecting this inner, personal knowledge to science within Kent and far beyond. We're excited to showcase Alison's writings as a regular feature this year.
Checking in with the Snowbirds
Last week, while my partner Cody and I were out birding, we caught sight of a promising flash of gold in the branches above. Excited exploration around the tree–at first glancing only a flickering tail feather, the flash of a small black eye, a streak of russet along its flank–eventually culminated in a vaguely disappointed sigh. “Just another Chestnut-Sided Warbler…"
Read on to learn about Alison's discoveries in Costa Rica-and decide for yourself
whether Kent's summer neighbors measure up to the Resplendent Quetzal!
Why Pollinators Matter
Imagine a bumblebee nest reliant on the seasonal cycle of native flowers, surrounded by gardens of only a few non-native species: species which they often cannot open, species which tend to not be as nutritious for them as natives, and species that will not provide food for any meaningful part of the year. This is the plight of the bumblebees.
Read more about the increasing challenges for specialist pollinators and the species who depend on them, and why, as human landscapes take up larger and larger proportions of the planet, the easiest way to keep the Earth healthy may be to let those landscapes become a part of the ecosystems they are built in.
Last weekend, an early spring hike down the Housatonic River by Bull’s Bridge ended with a unique highlight: not a stirring view or an impressive summit, but a faint, familiar call ringing through the trees.
Do you recognize who Alison was hearing? Read on to learn more about how Alison uses eBird at home and out walking, why it matters, and how we each have a part to play in reversing the decline of our birds.
When I tell you that I first caught my boyfriend’s attention with my tree identification skills, it’s barely an exaggeration. We were out for an autumn hike with a group of fellow graduate students when he started pointing out a charming assortment of birds through the branches: the bright crest of a cheeping Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, the fluttering hops of a migrating Blackpoll Warbler, and the long, banded tail of a soaring American Kestrel. Not to be outdone, but lacking in his superpowers of bird identification, I repaid his observations with a glimpse at the magic to be found in the branches themselves.
Alison as an intern at Kent Mountain Preserve
As the whirlwind of autumn transitioned through a cicada-filled-September to an overflowing-goldenrod-October to a finally-frosty-November, I’ve felt a bit more wistful than usual. Fall has always been my favorite season.1 I’ve always loved the riotous leaves, the frosty mornings paired with warm afternoons, and looming promise of all my favorite holidays. I’ve also – somewhat unpopularly – always loved the start of a new school year, with its fresh, blank notebooks and its neat, not-too-crowded schedules promising a well-organized semester. While neither the notebooks nor the schedules ever remain as organized and uncrowded as hoped, I found myself having to a try a bit harder than usual to find that optimism this September.
Looking back on it, I’ve decided that the added wistfulness – and, I’ll admit, touch of dread – has stemmed not only from the inevitable exhaustion of starting my 20th year of school (yikes!), but from an odd feeling of a summer skipped. I’ve no right to feel like I skipped the summer, really: I took time off work with my family, I traveled to new states and hiked new trails, I dipped my toes in the ocean and did every other obligatory summer activity. But despite that schedule of vacations, despite the plethora of heat waves and mosquitos and cicadas experienced, I still feel like I missed out on something critical from the Summer of 2023.