DARKNESS falls on the hall and strange creatures are leaving their homes on the hunt for something to eat.
It could be the start of a horror film - but actually it’s very good news for nature lovers.
The creatures in question are bats and the big house in this instance is Castle Bromwich Hall.
Last week, I went along to the gardens to join a bat walk and find out more about these animals.
I arrived on a mild - and mercifully dry - Friday evening. Volunteers from the BrumBats group were there to meet us and began with a presentation about the animals.
A map showed the species which are spread across the Midlands - although there was a conspicuous gap over inner Birmingham. Bats, it would seem, are not a fan of city living.
But Castle Bromwich is a bit different - the gardens are a haven for the creatures and a rare species was previously spotted in nearby Kingsleigh Drive.
By the time the talk was over, it was pretty close to sunset.
We filed out into the grounds and were armed with devices, designed to pick up the bats’ high pitched cries.
It wasn’t too long before we saw some shadows flitting between the trees. Pointing the detectors upwards, we soon picked up the excited chatter which is inaudible to the human ear.
The creatures were pipistrelles - Britain’s smallest and most common bat.
The species is so tiny that it could fit inside a matchbox - but this certainly isn’t the sort of thing you’d want to try at home.
More bats were hunting for insects above a nearby pool. Once again we reached for our detectors.
The distinctive click-click-click grew quicker as the bats chased a tasty midge.
Soon enough the walk was over and the detectors were back in the box.
It had been an interesting evening and proved that there’s plenty of wildlife on our doorsteps which we don’t even know about.
* To find out more about BrumBats, visit their website at www.brumbats.org.uk.