If swimming is defined as the activity of propelling through water using the limbs, then the snake wasn’t swimming. It doesn’t have legs, and to move along it ripples the muscles in its body, as we know.
So it was gliding across the surface of the water, which is what it looked like it was doing.
Tamara and I first spotted it when it was in among the water lily leaves, and we were so excited.
Then it glided to the edge of the leaves as you can see here and then across the water to the next clump of leaves. Seeing it completely in the water, gliding along, was a real thrill.
Part of my brain was wondering – How does it manage to stay on the surface and not sink?
I didn’t know what kind of snake it was, but I could see it had a very distinctive yellow marking behind its head. And now I have researched what snake it could be, the only conclusion is that it is a grass snake.
Grass snakes are semi-aquatic, and the snake we saw was about 70cm (about 27 inches long), both of which fit.
I learned that grass snakes eat frogs, toads and newts, but they will also eat fish, small mammals and birds. It is not venomous and swallows its prey whole, so I cannot imagine they could eat a young moorhen or mallard, but maybe when those birds are first born.
I had my new small camera with me and it has a wide 28mm lens. That’s why the snake is not very big in the scene.
As I was writing glided, I had a moment when it seemed wrong somehow. You know how that happens when a word seems wrong. I looked it up and the past tense of glide can be glided or glid. My autocorrect doesn’t like glid very much. It is very opinionated.
The best bit though is that an archaic version of the past tense is glode, which I really like.