Showcase 2021 Winner: Alice Cahill

California Thrasher in the Mouth of a Domestic Cat, San Luis Obispo County, California, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Conservation © Alice Cahill
California Thrasher in the Mouth of a Domestic Cat, San Luis Obispo County, California, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Conservation © Alice Cahill

Artist’s statement

I think one of the main lessons I have learned as a photographer is to be in the moment and be open to what is presented to me. While it is good to have a basic plan, and there are times when I really need to prepare for a particular shoot (for example capturing the Milky Way) I certainly didn’t plan this photo. But I feel it makes a strong statement. I am not a specialist, but rather I like to photograph a wide variety of subjects.

How I got the shot

The morning I took my shot I was photographing birds at a local urban lake. One of my favorite birds is the California thrasher. They are not a flashy bird, but they are very vocal and have a wonderful song. I was shocked when I saw a domestic cat with a Thrasher in its mouth. It broke my heart to see this. I raised my camera and was able to take a few shots before the cat with bird disappeared into some bushes. As much as I hated seeing this, I knew I had to take those shots even as I took them. Cats kill up to 3 billion birds every year in the lower 48 states. It is a tragedy that can be prevented if cats wear a colorful cloth collar. The birds clearly see the bright colors of the collar and can avoid the cats. These cat collars can be found at Birdsbesafe.com.

What I used

I took my shot with a Sony a9 and a Sony 200-600 lens set at 600mm. It was handheld at 1/2000, f/7.1 and ISO 2500.

About me

I am retired and live in Morro Bay, California. I took up photography in 1992 when my husband gifted me with my first SLR camera—a Canon Rebel. At the time I was still working full time and took several correspondence courses with the New York Institute of Photography.

One of my photos was published in Oprah’s “O” Magazine in July 2004. At that time, the magazine had a double page spread called ‘Breathing Space.’ I received emails from people all around the world complementing me on that photo. It was a real highlight for me and encouraged me to take more photos and to submit them in contests. 

My photographic journey

I have always been an ‘outside’ person and am happiest when I am in nature. My dad gave me the big picture and was always taking us on adventures to national parks, the California desert and the Sierra. My mom was the one who sat quietly with me in the tall grass of meadows and showed me all the little things. I believe that nature is a healing force and a refuge from the chaos of daily life. Photography is the perfect medium to showcase the wonders of the natural world. I love to photograph a variety of subjects, but I have a particular love of birds.

NANPA and me

I joined NANPA in 1999 and attended my first Summit in San Diego that same year. I have had multiple images accepted in previous Showcases and was honored to win best in show in the All Other Wildlife category in 2015. My image of a mass of woolly caterpillars taken at Tambopata National Reserve in Peru was also featured as the back cover of NANPA’s Expressions journal that year. I have also received a Judge’s Choice award for my Altered Reality image in 2016 and a First Runner-Up award in 2018.

Learn more

Website:  www.alice-cahill.pixels.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/alicecahill.750
Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicecahill

See more of Alice’s images

  • California Thrasher in the Mouth of a Domestic Cat, image by Alice Cahill
    California Thrasher in the Mouth of a Domestic Cat, San Luis Obispo County, California, 2021 Showcase Best in Category, Conservation © Alice Cahill