Chatfield State Park surrounds a large reservoir at the confluence of the South Platte River and Plum Creek, southwest of Denver. For sheer variety of species, this preserve is, in my opinion, the best birding location in the Metropolitan Area and one of the best along the entire Front Range.
The reservoir, itself, attracts cormorants, American white pelicans, western grebes, ring-billed gulls and a variety of waterfowl during the warmer months and, in winter, is known for attracting rare loons, gulls, scoters and other waterbirds. Ponds, marshes and backwaters along the South Platte corridor provide nesting habitat for Canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, common and hooded mergansers, soras and pied-billed grebes and feeding grounds for great blue herons, snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons.
Grasslands west and south of the reservoir attract western and eastern kingbirds, western meadowlarks, grassland sparrows, magpies, kestrels, prairie falcons and other open country raptors; a prairie dog town along the south entry road may harbor burrowing owls. Rich, riparian woodlands along Plum Creek and the South Platte offer nesting and feeding habitat for great horned owls and virtually any songbird that inhabits or visits the Colorado Piedmont while mudflats at the mouth of these streams are magnets for killdeer, spotted sandpipers and migrant shorebirds.
This morning's visit did not turn up any unusual sightings but one encounters a wide variety of birds just driving across this large refuge. Of course, the beautiful scenery and sunny Colorado climate make a visit to Chatfield State Park worthwhile during any season of the year and not knowing what to expect fuels the enthusiasm of all birders and naturalists.