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SMITH: Big cats crash birders' counting party

Published: Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 3:52 p.m.

More than 100 of Sonoma County's hardiest naturalists fanned out to count birds for 24 hours at year's end. Yet, a good many came back talking about cats.

Volunteers in the Madrone Audubon Society's 46th annual Christmas Bird Count on the seaward side of the county couldn't help but notice an abundance of bobcats.

There were 11 sightings of the gorgeous stub-tailed cats. The scientific conclusion of Peter Leveque, the retired SRJC field biology instructor and dean of local naturalists: “That's a lot.”

Seriously, the bird counters don't know what to make of the wealth of bobcat sightings, but they suspect it's a good sign for the environment.

Peter says the birds appear to be in pretty good shape, too.

Covering a circle 15 miles in diameter, volunteers in the Audubon Society's year-end West County count tallied about 20,000 individual birds — three of them bald eagles — in 183 species.

Solidly average, Peter said.

Though it's too early to say how this year's total of species observed will compare with those from other areas across the nation, Peter said we typically finish among the top 20 or 25.

Given the experience in West County this year, the National Audubon Society, which has encouraged and coordinated the end-of-year bird census since 1900, may now rank sightings of bobcats, too.

But don't count on it.

DAN CAREY IS 28 and he has been touted by Forbes as one of America's hottest young talents.

I mentioned the other day that Santa Rosa High alum Andrew Golis made Forbes' elite “30 Under 30” list for his achievements in new media.

Several fans of Dan alerted me that the 2002 graduate of Cardinal Newman High also is on the Forbes list, in the sports category.

He attracts sponsorships to pro sports and the Olympics as director of business development for the Wasserman Media Group. Forbes noted that Dan is credited with “substantially boosting growth of USA Cycling sponsorship revenue.”

Forbes put him in the same league of young sports stars as Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas and Usain Bolt, LeBron James of the Miami Heat and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby.

A DIFFERENT LIST now boasts the name of former North Coast lawmaker Michael Allen.

Voters decided in November that Allen had served long enough in the state Assembly. Sent packing, he did what ex-legislators often do, he went in search of a cushy political appointment.

His crony John Perez, the speaker of the Assembly, hooked him up as a member of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, a position that pays $128,000 a year.

With that appointment, Allen joins the roster of the Election Losers' Last Laugh Club of Sacramento. He'll collect about $2,500 a week and likely will never be heard from again.

DR. HERB BROSBE is an old-school Santa Rosa family physician who's always believed that the time it takes to properly treat and connect with a patient is the time that it takes.

The PD's archives contain a wealth of stories recounting Brosbe's challenges to a health-care system that he believes pressures docs to flip patients quickly and efficiently, sort of like burgers on a drive-through's grill.

He broke free from a medical group in 2000 largely because for him, the operational demands brought into focus the difference between treating patients and truly caring for them.

“That's kind of where my heartache is,” he said.

Brosbe has now retired. He leaves the health profession quite concerned about its future but also profoundly grateful to have bonded with generations of people as their family doctor.

He said, “I thought it was one of the most privileged, incredible relationships you can have with a human being.”

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)

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