Ion energy spectra of a laser-produced Ta plasma have been investigated as a function of the flight distance from the focus. The laser (Nd:YAG, 20 ns, 210 mJ) is incident obliquely (45°) and focused to an intensity of about 10^11 W cm-2. The changes in the ion distributions have been analysed for the Ta+ to Ta6+ ions in an expansion range 64 - 220 cm. With increasing distance from the target, a weak but monotonic decrease is observed for the total number of ions, which is essentially due to the decrease in the number of the more highly charged species. For the Ta+ and Ta2+ ions the net changes approximately cancel. A more sophisticated picture of the recombination dynamics is obtained, however, if the changes within individual groups of ions expanding with different velocities are compared. Here, in the same spectrum, both increasing and decreasing ion numbers can be observed. This can be interpreted as direct evidence of recombination and its dependence on temperature, density and charge.