Mittry Lake Wildlife Area

Mittry Lake.

January 20 – 26 & February 9 – 10, 2021.

We were itching to get to a lake and break out the kayak. We were still in the Yuma area. Our Pandemic Pod we had spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, and had made multiple trips across the border for dental work with had split up and gone their separate ways.

Lake Mittry was nearby and offered free camping. Perfect!

I was a little concerned about the availability of camping at the lake since it is so close to Yuma. My go-to camping app, iOverlander listed just a couple of sites along the lake. No worries, if we couldn’t find anything there were other options in the area.

Lake Mittry is 600 acres of water surface and 2400 acres of marsh or upland jointly managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It lies about 18 miles northeast of Yuma on the east side of the Colorado River. It is designated as an IBA (Important Birding Area).

We started seeing campsites right away as we got to the lake – spots right along the road, a few of which were right on the lake. A little further on we found the designated camping area – a large gravel parking lot with wide spaces able to accommodate any big rig with a toad (towed vehicle) or 2 or 3 rigs our size in one spot. A boat ramp and Pavillion sat along the lake across the road from the designated camping. Behind the designated camping rigs lined up end to end on a bluff overlooking the lake on one side and a canal on the other. From here the road continued to follow the shoreline and where we found more sites right off the road. As the lake and road started to diverge a large field with scrubby plants and a few trees provided more options to camp with a lot fewer campers. And finally past there was the second boat ramp with spots dotting either side of the short road leading to the water.

My fears of not finding a spot were for naught – there was plenty of camping of all types.

We camped in three different places during our visit to the lake, the designated camping site, the large field with the scrubby plants, but our absolute favorite site was the spot that overlooked “the pond.”

“The pond” spot was never taken. We left and came back a few times. Perhaps it wasn’t appealing because it was really just a pull-off right on the road. And honestly, if we hadn’t had turned into crazy birders this past year we may have given it a pass too.

Sitting on a hill above the lake we could sit in the van and peer down into a small body of water separate but adjacent to the lake. The pond was always full of activity. Egrets (Snowy and Great) gleamed in their favorite spots poking around for food. Ducks sunned themselves on a log. Coots paddled about. A Belted Kingfisher looked for good eats from his favorite perch above the water. Raptors circled overhead – which was often “underhead” from our spot. A White-faced ibis foraged alongside the Great Egret. Swallows filled the morning skies. It was like birder TV.

Oh, and we kayaked too. The water was beautiful. We saw grebes, lots and lots of coots, and a Ruddy Duck.

It was chilly in the mornings so we only got one kayak in. But we took a few walks along the road that looked over the lake. Only 10 days of camping are allowed at the lake each year so on day 10 we left our spot on the hill overlooking the pond. Hopefully, another crazy birder discovered it next.

Western Grebe.
Pied-billed Grebe.
Cloud reflections.
View from the kayak.
There were tons of coots on the lake. Here are a few coots with peaks in Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in the background.
Ruddy Duck.
Kayaking through the reeds.
Besides kayaking, we hiked the road along the lake and found more birds and some pretty nice views. Brewer’s Blackbirds.
Brewer’s Blackbird.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Loggerhead Shrike.
A canal ran along the road opposite the lake.
A view from our campsite of the pond and the lake.
Turkey Vulture hunting over the lake.
After circling the pond, the Turkey Vulture came straight towards the van.
A view of our camping spot from the pond.
Northern Harrier hunting over the pond.
White-faced Ibis in the pond.
White-faced Ibis.
This Belted Kingfisher kept a close eye on the pond. And we kept a close eye on him.
Costa’s Hummingbird.
This guy surprised me. I got an ok shot. White-faced Ibis in flight.
Great Egret in the pond.
Unfortunately, most things in the pond were too far for me to get a good capture with my camera. Here is a coot, a Northern Shoveler, and a few Cinnamon Teals.
View from the pond to the lake.
Sunset over the lake.

It is quite possible that  I will be sharing this post on any one of these sites this week:  My Corner of the World, Travel Tuesday, Wild Bird Wednesday, Through My LensWeekend Coffee Share, and Sharon’s Souvenirs. Check out these links to see what other people are doing all over the world!

14 thoughts on “Mittry Lake Wildlife Area

  1. It sounds and looks like you had a nice time at Mittry! Not being rushed when camping is such a good feeling… We hope we will be able to do that again in a few months!

    1. We spent most of the winter not making many plans (or sharing the plan making with friends). It was nice not to be in hurry to the next destination.

    1. I love the Grebes too. I had no idea what a Grebe was until we started birding! Happy trails to you too Dixie!

    1. Thanks Sharon. So often the flight shots are luck – like when the vulture came right for the van. We love being out in nature.

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