New film highlights Back Bay nature

"Discover Orange County" has become quite popular for its detailed take on the region, whether it's the old cottages at Crystal Cove State Park, tracking where your trash goes from the garbage can to the dump, or checking out Old Town Orange.

Now comes another program. Only this time it's going to give viewers a sneak peek into the Upper Newport Bay and introduce them to all sorts of wildlife that live there — from the flora and fauna to migratory birds.

Called "Upper Newport Bay," the segment will premiere at noon Sunday and again at 9 a.m. Tuesday on KOCE-TV, the PBS station that airs from Ventura to San Clemente to Palm Springs.

"It's a small look at this beautiful area that has such a big environmental impact on the area in which we live," according to a news release from the show's creators.

Both the show's director, Dan Donley, and its producer, Michelle Merker, are Newport-Mesa residents and have extensive background in television, video, radio and filmmaking.

The Upper Newport Bay, also known as Back Bay, is a large coastal wetland and major layover for migrating birds.

Dozens of species, including some endangered ones, can be seen there.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve consists of roughly 1,000 acres of open space. It was purchased by the state in 1975 for the Fish and Game Department's Ecological Reserve System.

In 1985, the upper west bluffs and lands surrounding the bay became part of a county regional park. The beautiful setting offers outdoor activities, such as bird-watching, jogging, bicycling, hiking, kayaking and horseback riding. It connects through the Newport Back Bay to Newport Harbor.

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