We have carried out an optical Thomson scatter study of a KrF laser-ablated Mg plume. The evolution of the electron temperature and density at distances 2-5 mm from the target surface has been studied. We have observed that the electron density falls more rapidly than the atomic density and believe that this is a result of rapid dielectronic recombination. A comparison of the electron density profile and evolution with simple hydrodynamic modeling indicates that there is a strong absorption of the laser in the plasma vapor above the target, probably due to photoionization. We also conclude that an isothermal model of expansion better fits the data than an isentropic expansion model. Finally, we compared data obtained from Thomson scatter with those obtained by emission spectroscopy under similar conditions. The two sets of data have differences but are broadly consistent.