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.

2 Tala Dam

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.

3 Tala Red-Knobbed Coot

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

4 Tala Wildebeest

In the distance above the opposite bank, a group of Blue Wildebeest trailed through the winter grass below a line of acacia trees

8 Tala aloes in dense bush

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

9 Tala Weaver feeding from aloe

A male Village Weaver feeding from the flowers of an Aloe ferox

10Tala Long-crested Eagle

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

11 Tala Kudu bull

A princely Kudu bull interrupting its browsing to stare back at us as we stare at him from our car

12 Tala Giraffe

The only giraffe we saw on this day, as it sauntered among the trees in search of palatable leaves

13 Tala Young Waterbuck

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

14 Tala Village Weaver

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

15 Tala Common Moorhen

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

15 Tala White-breasted Cormorant

A White-breasted Cormorant turning its back to the afternoon sun as it dries its wings, probably after oiling and preening its feathers

16 Tala African Darter

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

17 Tala White-breasted-Cororants-on-nest

White-breasted Cormorants on a nest on a dead tree near the water. They often nest communally

18 Tala Juvenile-White-breasted-Cormorants

A pair of juvenile White-breasted Cormorants perching below their nest in the nesting tree that accommodates several nests

19 Tala-young-Impala-Ram

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

20 Tala-Impala

An Impala seemingly enjoying munching on some leaves among the beautiful tall grasses that made getting a clear photo somewhat tricky

21 Tala-Little-Grebe

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!

Posted by Carol