My girlfriend and I did a long walk around High Ridge Wildlife Management area, a 2,000+ acer WMA in the towns of Gardner, Westminster and Ashburnham. We were not under any time consrtaints so I had a little more time to bird..... and skip stones across the thin ice on the newly frozen marshes that makes cool "finch-like noises" as the stones bounce! About a mile into the walk I heard, then saw, 5 or 6 Pine Grosbeaks flying over head and they eventually they set down on some high tree tops. I had also heard and seen a 1/2 dozen, a few miles, away earlier in the morning in Gardner.
We spent a bit of time looking at the crab apple trees near the hunter saftey building, off Overlook Road, and saw and heard more Pine Grosbeaks. Perhaps another 1/2 dozen, some where flying and a few perched atop Norway Spruces a 100 yards away. A male Sharp-shinned was passing overhead, perhaps that is what put the grosbeaks in flight. A few moments later I notice an immature Northern Shrike in a nearby tree, I managed to snap a few digi-bin photos (below).
Immature Northern Shrike
We heard some howling dogs, while we visited the marsh near the East Gardner Road gate, and then saw the truck (carrying the dogs) pass by. Later we spoke with a person walking her dogs and she said there was a Fox Hunt going on, in an area we'd already passed through " jolly good!". A bit later we the saw the "hunters" returning to their cars, apparetly it was a quick hunt and missed the action....we didn't get to hear the horn blow ..not even a "tally ho". But, the sight of the 2 dozen "well heeled" hunters crossing the fields on horse back was quite a sight.