Fred T H Smith

Subject: Fred T H Smith
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2013 18:26:02 +0800

Being a West Australian, I didn't meet Fred on too many occasions. But In January 1996, Jim Beruldsen, Ken Baker and Fred met me in Kununurra in the north of WA. We spent a week birding around Kununurra and Wyndham. Some great birds :

Oriental Reed-warbler at Lily Creek Lagoon
King Quail at Kingston Rest Station - This is still the only one I have definitely seen in Australia, and we found it because Fred heard it call in the flooded lukina crop.
100's of snipe (Pin-tailed & Swinhoe's) near Parry Creek Lagoons near Wyndham.
A boat trip on Lake Argyle with Yellow Chat, Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, Ruff, Long-toed Stint, etc, etc.

We then flew to Broome for a week, including a day trip to Derby.

Little Ringed Plover at the Derby sewage works overflow that Fred found amongst the large number of Red-capped Plover, Red-necked Stint, etc. This was my first sighting. The mud was very sticky and we were all several centimetres taller by the time we made it back to the car. Oriental Cuckoo at the Derby sewage works. This is still the only one I have seen in WA, and the first I saw.
Garganey at the Derby sewage works.
Barn Swallows. A flock on Roebuck Plains which were my first in WA.
Oriental Plover, Oriental Pratincole on the way to Derby.

There were many other great sightings. Little Bittern, Yellow-rumped Mannikin, Shining Flycatcher, Buff-sided Robin, Red-chested Button-quail, Black Bittern, Common Redshank, Asian Dowitcher, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Lemon-bellied (Kimberley) Flycatcher, ..........

I first knew Jim Beruldsen from a tour with Chris Doughty (& Mike Carter) to the Canning Stock Route to find Princess Parrots. We were very successful, seeing them over 5 days between Wells 42 and 37. Jim got sick (a lung infection) but he hung in there and found his 600th species, the big threshhold in the those days. PS : Jim did recover, by the end of the trip! Probably watching Chris replace a flat tyre.

I believe that Fred convinced John Barkla to organise a BOCA trip to look for the Princess Parrots, after Jim had talked to Fred about the trip. For some reason it was organised in January! I know that some tour operators declined to run the trip, as they don't like to kill their clients!! But one operator agreed and they all met in Alice Springs (including Fred), and went up the Tanami Road and then down the Canning Stock Route. They were successful, plus they found a Black-tailed Gull at Lake Gregory (I believe that Fred did the write up?). They were lucky with the late wet season, but it must have been very tough in those conditions.

Fred was certainly the mentor for Jim Beruldsen (Gordon Beruldsen's half brother), and on other trips I did with Jim he often talked about times with Fred. If there was something rare, Fred would ring Jim and make certain that he went and saw it (usually giving Fred a lift of course).

It was a good trip and the next time I came to Melbourne, Ken Baker took me birding for a day and I found Chestnut-rumped Heathwren (Gembrook) and Powerful Owl (Lysterfield), among other new birds.

So it wasn't just meeting Fred. It was also meeting the people that Fred had mentored. His influence was very strong.

Frank O'Connor           Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :

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