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Walking Bunch beach in Fort Myers this evening, I came upon a Laughing Gull
with what looked like a strange orange colored encrustation covering its
left leg.  Both the tarsus and webbed toes were swollen and misshapen, or
fully covered, by something that could be compared with elephantitus.  The
leg was at least 3x normal size, clearly disabled, and held aloft.  The
orange discoloration was also starting on the lower right foot and spreading
up the black tarsus.  When passers-by disturbed it, the bird hobbled a few
feet, seemed reluctant to fly but then slowly took off - seemingly weighted
down by the sheer size of its leg.  I have never seen anything like it.  Any
ideas?  Is it something we should watch for in others of its kind?

Bob Wilson
Fort Myers

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