Ingredients for a great excursion: a sunny day, a nearby natural location, a simple packed lunch, a favourite beverage, a camera, and congenial human company (the last is optional).
And so off we went – three of us made an impromptu excursion to nearby Tala Private Game Reserve for a day in nature albeit by car. Described as “a wildlife conservancy hidden in the hills of a quiet farming community” Tala’s network of untarred roads enables day visitors to drive through a mix of acacia thornveld and open grassland and visit a gorgeous dam that attracts many water birds.
A view of the dam with farmlands in the distance. In addition to attracting many water birds, the dam is also home to several hippos
We spent time sitting on a small wooden jetty at an old boat house enjoying the morning sunshine, watching the passing waterbirds and spotting antelope on the other side of the dam.
An energetic swimmer, this Red-knobbed Coot swam by several times glancing at us as it passed on its way to feed on patches of submerged water weeds
In the distance above the opposite bank, a group of Blue Wildebeest trailed through the winter grass below a line of acacia trees
Aloes in flower and succulent euphorbias can be seen among the acacias and other trees in this densely vegetated section of the reserve. The flowering aloes are spectacular during the winter months
A male Village Weaver feeding from the flowers of an Aloe ferox
A Long-crested Eagle, its crest tousled in the breeze, showing off its white leggings. These eagles mostly hunt from perches, often perching conspicuously on tall poles or trees even near to main roads
A princely Kudu bull interrupting its browsing to stare back at us as we stare at him from our car
The only giraffe we saw on this day, as it sauntered among the trees in search of palatable leaves
On our way to the picnic site for some lunch we saw this young Waterbuck munching on grass near the side of the road. No adults were evident, but we assumed that they could not be far away
Several Weavers perched above us in a tree and watched us eat our lunch, including this one in eclipse plumage, most likely a Village Weaver
After a leisurely lunch we drove alongside the dam as the sunlight warmed to a mellow richness, and we saw this Common Moorhen looking for food among the reeds close to the shore
A White-breasted Cormorant turning its back to the afternoon sun as it dries its wings, probably after oiling and preening its feathers
The distinctive profile of an African Darter, as it also perches atop a wooden post near the shoreline. These birds often submerge while fishing with just the neck and head protruding above the surface of the water
White-breasted Cormorants on a nest on a dead tree near the water. They often nest communally
A pair of juvenile White-breasted Cormorants perching below their nest in the nesting tree that accommodates several nests
As we drove away we passed a small group of Impala grazing alongside the shoreline. This young ram is burnished to a rich colour by the late afternoon sun
An Impala seemingly enjoying munching on some leaves among the beautiful tall grasses that made getting a clear photo somewhat tricky
And in closing, a pair of Little Grebes, also known as Dabchicks, illuminated by the golden sunlight as the sun starts to set
After such a good day out, we have resolved to make the effort to indulge in more outings. All too often we get so caught up in the humdrum that it takes a bit of mobilising to step outside of the usual routines. But when we do, we wonder why it took us so long. So I encourage you to venture forth if and when you can and put a jaunt in your step!