Smew are a relatively scarce winter visitor to Britain, with most seen in the south-east. They also tend to be the latest of winter migrants to arrive, and one of the first to leave, only rarely being seen outside of the period between December and February. In most years 'redheads', the females and 1st winter birds, are more common than the adult males, which are sometimes referred to as 'white nuns' (the plumage is white with black trim - the opposite of the white trimmed black habit worn by many orders of nun!).
The Lee Valley Regional Park is one of the areas that regularly attracts a few wintering Smew, with this winter being no exception. Sometimes they can be difficult to locate, but I had no trouble finding a smart drake today on Friday Lake in the River Lee Country Park.
Nearby a Cetti's Warbler showed very well, albeit only for a few seconds at a time, apart from when it popped up only about three feet from me (well within the minimum focus distance of my camera lens - I think it might have been playing with me!), and a male Goosander flew overhead. Small flocks of Siskin, and a few Lesser Redpolls were also moving around, and a 1st winter male Goldeneye was actively feeding, at the south end of Seventy Acres Lake.
Several Water Rails, and at least two, possibly three, Bitterns showed very well at Seventy Acres lake, although the dull, overcast conditions, which later turned to quite heavy rain, made photography very difficult due to slow shutter speeds.
A Kingfisher stopped briefly, and may have stayed for longer if the reed it chose to try to land on had been a bit more sturdy, and Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker were among the more colourful visitors to the bird feeders in front of the hide. A male Smew, perhaps the same one I'd seen on Friday Lake earlier in the day, dropped in to be seen by those in the hide in mid afternoon.