The Sandwich Bay coastline and all the marshes inland to the River Stour have been created by the northerly drift of sand and shingle, together with deposits of alluvium over many centuries.
This process is still taking place. It is interesting to reflect that almost all of the area of the Sandwich Bay Nature Reserve has been laid down since the 18th century. Great changes have taken place since the Sandwich Tern and the Kentish Plover regularly bred here and were first described by Dr John Latham, the eminent naturalist of the day, from specimens taken at Sandwich Bay in 1784 and 1787 by William Boys, Sandwich historian and Fellow of the Linnaean Society.
The sandhills still attract naturalists to study the rich flora and fauna of the area, a stretch of coastal dunes unique in the County of Kent and recognised as being of the highest scientific value. A colony of Little Terns has been wardened in conjunction with the Kent Trust for Nature Conservation, but as with most colonies of this species in this country, they have declined for reasons badly understood.
Sandwich Bay was one of the country’s first independent ringing stations, founded in 1952. Official Observatory status was achieved in 1962 when, with the kind co-operation of Mr A Daw and sons we were able to move onto the site of our present headquarters, although the facilities were rather more basic thatn they are now. The ringing and recording are still carried out within the rules of the Bird Observatories Council and the British Trust for Ornithology.
Charitable trust status was achieved in 1984 and two years later 22 acres of land, known as Restharrow Dunes Nature Reserve, was purchased
In 1994 the Trust created a fresh-water wader scrape to attract migrant waders in spring and autumn at Backsand Point, and a second scrape was created at Restharrow in 2002.
The current Field Centre was opened in 2002 and has allowed the work of the Trust to expand in more comfortable and better-equipped surroundings.
SBBOT supports the work of the National Trust, the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the management of the Sandwich Bay Nature Reserve and plays a major role in documenting the bird-life of the estuary.