LAKE JAMES — Ali Camara is an inquisitive sort who loves the outdoors.
After developing an interest in purple martins from watching the PBS television show “Wild Kratts,” Ali, 4, Lafayette, wanted to learn more about the swallow in their native surroundings.
So Mom, Dominique Camara, did some searching through an Indiana nature Facebook group she’s a member of and Google and was directed to Pokagon State Park and its program on purple martins, which was held Thursday.
“I did a Google search and that event popped up,” Dominique said.
That event was Thursday’s purple martin nest check where the gourd-like nesting structures that are out in front of Potawatomi Inn Beach are brought down and a check on the chicks and/or eggs is performed.
Guests at the park get to take a look before the vessels are raised back up in position. Staff and volunteers recorded nine hatched chicks with 18 additional eggs to hatch.
There’s a lot to like about purple martins, as far as Ali is concerned. Sure, they eat tons of bugs, especially mosquitoes. But as Ali has learned from the Kratts brothers, they have a unique flight and dive bomb after their insect prey.
“That’s what really interested my son,” Dominique said.
While at Pokagon, Ali also learned something very special about the birds.
“They’re good parents. They feed their young,” he said in a very brief phone interview.
The program is what brought mother and son to Pokagon (father Ali Camara had to stay back at Purdue University to work on his doctoral studies). They arrived on Wednesday and spent the night in the park before taking part in the purple martin program and getting in some lake time.
Dominique said she was very impressed with park staff and volunteers who performed the regular nest checks of the purple martin houses at the Potawatomi Inn Beach.
It was the first trip to Pokagon for Dominique and the younger Ali. They have an annual park pass and they try to get to as many properties as possible, beyond Prophetstown State Park near their home.
“I just think that we take for granted what we have available in Indiana,” Dominique said.
The forest and hills and lakes of Pokagon left the two impressed and wanting to make a return visit. Pokagon has everything the inquisitive Ali likes: Lots of nature with much to explore.
After the program, the pair rented a kayak to explore the lake. Afterward, Ali spent a lot of time playing in the water, under the purple martin houses.