Yahoo has started its latest round of layoffs, which hit its pixel-cute photo-sharing site Flickr, a formerly sacrosanct fiefdom. We hear Google has its eyes on some of the Flickr employees Yahoo let slip.

One of those is Cal Henderson, Flickr's longtime director of engineering (left). AllThingsD's Kara Swisher reports that he's left Flickr and is working on a startup with Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield, who quit Yahoo with a bizarre resignation letter last year.

That's not all he's up to: We hear he spoke at some length with a Google recruiter at a party Saturday night. In an IM conversation, Henderson admitted he went to a party "with some folks from Six Apart [the blog-software company] and Flickr," but denied he'd spoken to anyone from Google.

Google's interest in Flickr's people is of long standing. Before Yahoo bought Flickr in 2005, Butterfield and his cofounder, then-wife Caterina Fake, flirted seriously with selling to Google. (In the small-world department: Megan Smith, the Google executive who championed a purchase of Flickr, is married to Swisher, the blogger who broke the news of Henderson and Butterfield's new startup.)

So if Google can't have Flickr, why not have its best people? No surprise that they're talking — and no surprise that Henderson's playing hard to get.