Horned Lark, Moth Mullein and Antelope Island

Male Horned Lark singing on a Moth Mullein stemMale Horned Lark singing on a Moth Mullein stem

There are seasonal cycles on Antelope Island State park, winter turns to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall and fall to winter but there are also yearly cycles for the wildflowers that bloom on the island too. This year appears to be the year of the Moth Mullein (a biennial invasive weed)  whereas two years ago it was the wild Sunflowers that came on strong.  A few days ago I spotted this male Horned Lark on a Moth Mullein stem and we had to turn around to get images of it, not that many birds actually perch on Moth Mullein and I don’t know why that is.

Moth MulleinMoth Mullein

While photographing Sage Thrashers last week I couldn’t resist taking a few close up images of the Moth Mullein from the pickup window. The stalk on the left is in bloom and the one on the right has finished blooming and has begun to set seeds. The purplish-red round seed pods will get a bit larger and then as the stalk dries they will turn brown before the pods open to spill the seeds.

Moth Mullein covered hillside near Buffalo PointMoth Mullein covered hillside near Buffalo Point

The lower elevations of this slope that goes up to Buffalo Point was covered in Moth Mullein blooms a few weeks ago when I took this photo. Two years ago this same slope was covered with wild Sunflowers, both of them yellow wildflowers but very different in shape and growth habit.

Yellow does seem to be the predominant color of wildflowers on Antelope Island State Park though I am not sure why, I’ll be Mullein that over.

Mia

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.

10 Comments

  1. Many thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.

  2. Beautiful! Sad I’m missing that. I’m glad you turned around for the horned lark shot. Smashing photo, as always.

  3. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    Oh, Mia! What a wonderful photo of the horned lark! where you have captured the “horns” beautifully! Also, I’m so glad you got a shot of the point where wild flowers put in seeds. I’ve been trying for years to get the precise time the milkweed turns to seeds but usually run into a weather system like we have now…the air quality is so bad that I can’t leave my a/c without suffering real problems. I woke up this morning and the ozone was so thick in the air, it was all I could smell. I suppose this is the day the milkweed turns to seeds and my blueberries ripen. Happy summer! At least I’m not snowed in.

  4. The island is so yellow and pretty!
    Love Love your horned lark!

  5. Mia, pretty shot of the Horned Lark. And the landscape shot with the wildflowers is gorgeous. Have a happy day!

  6. You get the best backgrounds at Antelope Island. I love seeing horned larks-they are such handsome birds! Interesting that the sunflowers and moth mulleins alternate on that slope. They both provide a nice yellow sweep to the landscape.

  7. Lovely Horned Lark, it is so beautiful.

  8. patty chadwick

    Love all three photos…horned lark on mullein is such a “happy morning, salutation to the sun” shot, great detail and composition. Mullein is one of my favorite wild flowers Your western variety is different than ours…very pretty. Thanks for treating us to the wonderful shot of Buffalo Point and the sweep of yellow against the blue of the water and the softer hues of the mountains in the distance…would have loved to have seen the sunflowers…drove right off the road, more than once, in the Tetons years ago when the sunflowers were in bloom! You’ll be mullein over the predominance of yellow flowers??? BAD!!!

  9. The information on Wikipedia is really interesting. It’s amazing how Flora can be so adaptable too and spread in invasive forms. Even trees can be invasive, and islands are very susceptible to Flora invasions. Some trees’ seeds are able to go into dormancy and resist hurricanes and ocean currents and can literally float and cross over islands and continents this way and germinate in a totally different place. The experiment with Moth Mullein also shows how long the seeds remain dormant. It sure is pretty much all over the U.S. now, amazing. I love the Horned Lark and the vistas.

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