Good question. I have been looking for a term to describe myself and my activities too.
Most people dont know what naturalist means. I only learned it about 10 years ago, already middle-aged, when I asked an entomologist I met at a party something about an insect I had seen. Since I used some scientific-ish words or knowledge uncommon amongst most people, he asked what I was, (in a manner of speaking). I said, I am not anything, I just always wonder what something is if I havent seen it before, and sometimes call the Museum or a government department where they find someone to answer my question, or look in books.
He said, then you are a naturalist. I said no, I have no formal learning and dont know much about any particular area. He explained that that was what a naturalist was, and that there are lots of us…whom he occasionally answers questions from, I suppose.
But I too would like a word, to describe the interest and activity of observing more from an ecological point of view, and only locally, where I can see what hapens next. Generally not particularly interested in family relationships or species per se…but needing to know names in order to recognise it again and communicate about it.
In my case it is generally plants, but fauna of course when I see them, and also soil, water, and EARTH. My favourite stuff, I think, and such a mystery package, but I recognise its livingness or otherwise (compacted, sprayed, deprived of plants).
If I knew what I was, I might find out how common I am, or even find a specialized online habitat :) for local liaison.
Perhaps this is a different word-search, but maybe touching on some points in common with you subalpine?