The first GOA pilgrimage took place on the above dates with varied amounts of success. Our journey was a pain free one that had us journeying from Manchester to Sumburgh via Aberdeen using planes supplied by BA and BMI for a small charge. Once on shetland we picked up our 'wheels' for the next 4 days and made our way to our lodgings, a fantastic 3 bedroomed detached house by the sea. Once de-bagged we set off in search of birds, as it is with shetland birds are everywhere but had insider info of the rare Sardinian Warbler near a house and a hotel. Whilst searching for the rare warbler we met some photographers and some twitcher types who we kept a carefull eye on. With limited views gained we got news of the very rare Swainson's Thrush which had been seen on an island near another house, so with the welfare of the bird in our minds we set off to search for the thrush, whilst on the ferry we saw the 'toy like' little auk just bobbing around in the water . The GOA were on sentry duty as twitcher after twitcher were spotted speeding towards the thrush but on arrival it had not been seen. GOA member 'The Apprentice' managed to find the thrush hopping along the ground feeding a mad scramble started but was soon under GOA control. We watched the thrush for about 40 minutes then it flew off. Whilst on the boat back we got wind of the even rarer Siberian Thrush on another island but this time not near a house. So the next morning we set off not in our car but on a boat with a mad skipper who wanted to get everybody drunk, so rare was this bird there were twitchers from france on-board but the news was not pleasing to all as the thrush had flown away so we all went back. Back on the mainland and looking for a bird near a stream GOA member Radar thought a wash was in order and disappeared into the stream only to emerge wet and phone-less. The next day was spent exploring the GOA true spiritual home Unst, it was an emotional day but this was overcome with a good days general ornithology with many unusual species seen (Radar has a full and detailed species list). The next day we stayed local to our base as this was the day of our departure, an uneventful half day was had but still enjoyable then we said our goodbyes and headed off home.
A great reunion and see you next year.